WIBA 2008: Part 2

>> Sunday, June 29, 2008

At the end of my previous post, I had the (gross) photo of me in my short yellow shorts that ended up revealing a little too much. Here’s how I got to that point:

Pharmie and I finished our first open water swim of the year in Lake Mendota. I ran back to shore, stripped out of my wetsuit, ran back to Pharmie’s car, stripped out of my Speedo and into my short yellow shorts (or “bowl full of sunshine”), and ran back to the swim area where everyone was still hanging out. I ran down the dock, wearing NOTHING but the short yellow shorts:

The group at the end of the dock was cheering me on, and I went straight into the drink. When I got out (as the last post painfully pointed out), everything was a little too revealing:

I had to grab Pharmie’s swim cap to keep things from going X-Rated. And check my previous post for a great quote about my man-bits. (And BIG THANKS to James, Wil’s hubby, for the photos of me in the shorts. Thanks James!)

After that, I went back to our hotel room as Pharmie and the others went out on a bike ride. After a few hours, I was hungry. So I ran out to Taco Bell.

Good news for me: I was at Taco Bell.
Bad news for Pharmie: A storm was a-brewin’.

Everyone on the bike ride fared just fine in the few pop-up showers that went through. The wind was nasty at some parts though, and I heard that was sucky.

The riders got back, Pharmie rested and showered, and we headed to the Great Dane for supper. We could choose pasta or steak:

We passed around James’ camera with the unedited photo of me in my yellow shorts from the previous post. I zoomed in to my junk. Wil kept saying “Steve, you’re magnificent!” I think she was joking, but I’ll take what I can get.

After we ate, a few of us grabbed a photo. These are the few of us from the original WIBA, 2 years ago:

Stu, Robby, Sara, Wil, Pharmie, and Me

Two years ago, Pharmie and I had just started blogging, and WIBA 2006 was our first “blogger meet-up.” Being it was our first, we didn’t know what to expect. We half expected to meet up with these strangers that we “met” online, and then end up on a Dateline special. But we had a blast, and we’ve had to go back each year, even though we’re not training for an Ironman.

I’ll have more in a few days about Sunday morning of WIBA, which was the run and the bike clinic at Endurance House. And yes, the short yellow shorts will make one more appearance in my next post...


WIBA 2008: Part 1

>> Saturday, June 28, 2008

Or, “Bowl Full of Sunshine!”

I’m writing from a hotel room as a part of WIBA 2008. WIBA stands for “Wisconsin Ironman Brick Adventure.” It’s the 3rd year it’s been held, and Pharmie and I have been to all 3 years. Pharmie is out on a 72 mile ride with other triathletes right now, and I’m bumming it in the hotel room (I’m supposed to be grading projects from my summer Color Theory class). Here’s an update on what’s went down so far:

Pharmie and I left the Twin Cities around 4 pm last night and drove straight to Madison, WI. We met the group just as they were done eating supper. Blogger buddy Robby B lead a small group of us down the street to get some Gelato (Pharmie’s FAVORITE!!!).

Robby and Pharmie enjoying gelato!

We got checked in to our hotel room and hit the hay. We got up this morning and met some friends for breakfast. I learned 2 things while we were sitting around eating:

1. Rural Girl asked if I brought the short yellow shorts (which I DID), and she considers them a “bowl full of sunshine.” And that’s a little creepy, because she reminds me a little bit of my Mom. Don’t tell her I said that...

2. There’s this amazing spray that you can spray around the foundation of your home to keep sneaky waffles from crawling into your basement:

Notice that it’s “Long Lasting.”

“Waffle Off” is just fun to say. Say it with me. No, say it faster. Say it like one word: “waffleoff.” Fun, isn’t it. I gotta get me a can of that.

So we headed to Lake Mendota for my first open water swim of the year. There were lots of weeds:

(Photo from Wil’s hubby, James)

OK, so it wasn’t that weedy everywhere, but there was quite a bit of weeds during the first few minutes of the swim. Here’s a few of us getting ready:

Here’s a group getting ready to jump in:

When we got done, I sprinted back to the car, changed into JUST the short yellow shorts, and came running back down the dock. I got some hoots and hollers from the group, and then I jumped right in the lake. James snapped a photo when I crawled out:

(Photo from Wil’s hubby, James)

Apparently, they get wet, and all goes downhill. They basically turn into Cling Wrap. ‘Nuff said. YOU SHOULD BE THANKING ME FOR PIXELATING THAT “ONE PART!” One lady, who I just met, remarked, "It was like a car accident that you KNOW you shouldn't look at, but you just can't help it!" That's the first time my junk has been compared to a car wreak. Great. James has more photos of me jumping off the dock and coming out of the water, so stay tuned for those!

We all dried off and headed to another nearby park to get ready for the bike ride. Rural Girl went looking for a bathroom...

...but all she found was the woods, and I think that was all she needed (if you know what I mean). Here’s the group getting ready to hit the bike course:

Pharmie is in the red, near the right

Well, I should take off and get some grading done, while I’m sitting hear in my air conditioned hotel room as the others are in the middle of the hot, sunny, WI countryside working their butts off:


Grandma’s Marathon: Part 2

>> Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fellow blogger Tea was racing in IM Coeur d’Alene this past weekend. She was sick, coughing, and exhausted, and she took herself out of the race half way through the bike. Here’s what she said on her blog:

“...I decided that I would ride to the halfway mark and turn in my chip. I was ok with my decision until I had to tell one of the race guys. I couldn't even get the words out because I was crying so hard...”

I can totally understand that exact scenario because of my experience this past weekend. Now, on with my story.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

So, I ended my last post with photos of me balled up in the fetal position, wallowing in my own crapulence. Borsch had snapped those photos of me in the distance. Then he came running up to me along with someone from the Medical Tent that I was heading towards.

“Steve...here, do you need this?” Borsch held out my “emergency” Power Bar that he had in his backpack. He said it quickly, as if all I needed was that Power Bar, and then I’d be off to my BQ race.

“No... I’m good... I’m done. My day is over.” I was still choked up and not speaking real clear. “Borsch, when you see Pharmie and Steph, do NOT let them know that I dropped. They don’t need to worry. Don’t tell them until they’re done. OK?”

“OK... yeah... they don’t need to know right now,” Borsch replied.

The man from the Med Tent walked me the last 100 feet to the tent. We were on a little embankment, and he walked on the lower side of me, expressing his concern that I was going to topple over. I assured him that I was going to be fine. I got to the tent, and I was offered a pickle. I almost laughed at the time, but now it makes sense (good way to get some salt back into a body). “No thanks,” I said. They offered me a seat, but I wanted to see if I could spot Pharmie, Steph, or any of our other friends running by.

So I went out near the course, behind some volunteers and spectators, and squatted down. I wanted to try to spot Pharmie, but I wanted to be out of sight so she wouldn’t see me and get worried. I waited there, going in and out of teary moments. The young man from the Med Tent kept coming over, touching me on the shoulder, and asking if I had seen my wife yet. “No,” was always my answer. Then, each and every time, he would offer me a pickle again. His persistence in offering me a pickle started to make me feel better. I mean, how many times can you offer a guy a pickle in an hour? He was really trying to be helpful, but all he had was pickles. (Wow, that last sentence was weird...)

I never saw Pharmie, Steph, or any of my other friends go by. I think I just missed them all from my low, obstructed view. I finally went and sat in the shade in a camp chair at the back of the tent. People were running in and out, needing Vasoline, pain killers, band-aids, etc. Someone radioed in my number: “1749, male, hates pickles.” OK, so he didn’t say “hates pickles.” I was officially out of the race.

When I was feeling pretty much back to normal, I walked back through the tent and thanked all the Med Tent volunteers. Then I walked out the back of the tent and hopped on the bus. There were only about 5 people on the bus, but it filled up quick (including a wheeler and a pro).

We only had about a 15 mile drive back into town. The first 8-10 miles were fast. The last few were really slow because of detours around the race. The entire ride was about an hour and a half. We got dropped off, and I went along the last half mile of the course looking for Pharmie to come in. I didn’t know that she was nearly an hour off her goal time, so I just kept looking. I was walking toward the finish line, just off the course. Apparently, one of the event photographers thought I was still trying to finish, because I found this photo of me on the event website:

Walking to the right, looking to the left

Borsch was still out there, snapping photos of the girls. Here they are around mile 14:


Steph waving

He found them again around mile 20:

Pharmie, looking strong

Steph, looking a little beat

I kept looking for the girls. I got into the finish area feeling really guilty. I was surrounded by finishers, and I was just the bum that got a ride back to town. I stood just beyond the tee-shirt tent and waited for Pharmie. She came in, and I was so excited to see her. She asked how I did, and I told her the story. There were no more tears, just a factual story. It was over it. I tried, but it just didn’t happen for me that day. So be it.

A little later, Steph came in, and the 2 sisters sat and rested in the finishers area:

Our friends did well too, and I snapped a photo of some of them while we were hiding from a brief downpour under a tent:

Pharmie, Jess, and Maddy

Here’s my version of why my day went so horribly wrong: I got in 2 good 17.5 mile training runs (both in just over 2 hours), but I never got in the 18, 20, and 22 miler that I had on my schedule (due to my achilles). I lost my 3 longest runs, but I didn’t change my goal on race day. Stupid. I think the pace was just too fast. That accounts for about 70% of why I barfed and started to lose my sight. But it doesn’t fully explain it. I’ve run plenty of runs over 13 miles at the very pace I was running on race day, and I didn’t crash and burn like I did this past weekend. Something else was off too. I don’t know what that was. I can’t explain the rest of it. But the majority of my problems were due to having to adjust my running schedule, but not adjusting my predicted marathon outcome. That’s what I think.

After the race, I felt fine. I actually jumped down and did a few squats to show Pharmie and Steph that my legs weren’t even fatigued that evening. I had a mondo headache for the rest of the day and in to the next day, but everything else was A-OK. Including my spirits. It sounds geeky and stupid, but I DID learn a lot from that DNF. It seems so generic, but I think it HAS made me stronger. When I got injured nearly 2 months ago, I almost threw in the towel and stopped training for Grandmas. I’m very proud of the fact that I trained around my injuries and at least gave the marathon a run for it’s money. Something is learned at every race, finish or not.

Would I have loved to finish? Of course.

Am I second-guessing my decision to drop out? A little.

Could I have walked my way to my first marathon finish? I think so.

Do I get annoyed when people ask and then answer their own questions like I’m doing right now? Damn right I do. So I’ll stop.

The next morning, Pharmie, Steph, Borsch, and I got up to go to the Black Woods Bar and Grill. We went there the night before, and it was DELICIOUS. So we thought we’d hit the Sunday morning brunch. We pulled into the lot about 2 minutes before they opened. As soon as I put the car in park, the “Immediate Seating” light turned on. Borsch and I exulted in unison: “The ‘Immediate Seating’ sign just lit up! LET’S GO!” The girls laughed at us as we ran to the door.

And then we ate:

Plate 1: omelet, french toast, bacon,
sausage, potatoes, and kielbasa

Plate 2: ribs (that’s right: RIBS!),
roll-up thing, and french toast

Plate 3: bread pudding, muffin, and another omelet (I thought
I was doing dessert, but there was no line at the omelet chef...)

Plate 4: chocolate mousse

Then we drove back to St. Paul, and we ate again. I grilled, and the girls made some veggies, fresh salsa, and cut up a melon:

I had WAY more melon and salsa
(and notice, I finally had that pickle... HA!)

So I think I’ll have to institute a new Steve-ism:
“All’s well that ends well with food!”
So true. So very true.

Well, now I’m off and training for the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon that Pharmie and I are doing together in a few weeks. I hit the pool this morning for a good 24 lap swim, and I’ll be hitting the bike tomorrow for my first ride since the Apple Duathlon (yikes!). And Pharmie and I can’t wait to head out to WI this weekend for WIBA (Wisconsin Ironman Brick Adventure). I’ll have photos and stories from that as soon as I can! Happy summer!

p.s. Thank you all so much for all the encouraging comments on my previous post. It really means a lot to me to have so many of you stopping by to make sure everything is OK. Words really can't explain. Thanks again!


Grandma’s Marathon Race Report

>> Sunday, June 22, 2008

Or, “This course smells a lot like dog doo and dead animals.”

Or, “So that’s what the inside of a Medical Tent looks like.”

I really want to start with a HUGE THANKS to everyone out there that has sent me advice of one form or another regarding all this marathon training hubbub. It has really meant a lot to have people checking in to see how things have been going. When I started blogging about 2 years ago, I thought it was going to be more of a one-way “lecture” and not so much of a great discussion. Thank you all for helping me! On longer runs, I really feel pushed by all of you - I think to myself, “Well, if this doesn’t go well, I have to answer to the blog-o-sphere!” Thank you all for being a part of this trip with me!

Many of you commented on my last short post. I want to get the first half of the story up so that you all know that I’m doing just fine. This post will start out fun (as usual), but then it will head south quickly. I’ll finish the marathon story in the next post. I’ll try not to be too long-winded, and there will be lots of photos (as usual).

Friday: the day before:

Borsch, came over. Shortly after that, Steph got home from work. Then Pharmie called to let us know that she was done with work and we could come pick her up. We were all off to Duluth! This was going to be my first stand-alone marathon, Steph’s second, and Pharmie’s 9th. Borsch was coming with his bike in tow so he could ride near us on the course and carry any goodies we could desire. How sweet is that?!

It didn’t take too long on the road before the girls were wiped out:

We arrived at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and we got our housing figured out. We were staying in a 2 bedroom suite-style dorm. Here are the ladies after we got checked in:

We found our room, and Steph couldn’t figure out the fridge:

It opens on the other side, Steph...

Once Steph finally got in, we stocked the fridge with the essentials:

Water, athletic drink, and boxed wine

The girls hit the snacks:

Then we headed off to Justin and Kelly’s house (no “Season 1 American Idol” jokes). They are friends who live in Duluth, and Kelly was running the half-marathon the next day (20 weeks pregnant). They hosted a big pasta meal for a bunch of Twin-Cities-Folk who made the trip north. Here are all the runners:

I guess the little guy on the slide isn’t running, but we let him be in the picture anyway. And do you see how tall Luke is? (He’s on the other side of the slide from me.) He’s not standing on a hill; He’s just 6’10”.

After the meal, we went to the expo to get our race day stuff. While we were down there, I had to buy this sweet, sweet triathlon magnet:

On the way back to the dorm, Pharmie snapped this photo of Lake Superior with a large ship and small rainbow:

We got back to our dorm, and started getting things ready for the big race. I filled out the “Emergency Contact” and “Medical Problems” portion on the back of my race number. Under “Medical Problems,” I put “very hairy.” And under “Medications and Doses,” I put “Nair, and lots of it.” Below that, I wrote “nothing, really” just to make it clear I was joking:

Borsch showed us the spreadsheet that he made (and laminated) that contains the expected mile splits of the 3 of us. He set it up so he would know when to be at specific mile markers in order to see us the most possible times. Geek.

Speaking of geeky charts, here was my wrist band with my expected times listed that I was going to wear during the race:

The first column is miles. The second column is individual mile times (they start at 7:15s, drop to 7s, and drop again to 6:45s). The third column shows my overall time at each mile. It has me finishing in 3:04:25. The fourth column (which is incomplete), shows a few times that would be achievable if I was feeling REALLY good, and could run each mile 10 seconds faster than listed in the second column. That final column has a finishing time of 2:59:55, which would be a super day. OK, so I guess Borsch isn’t the only geek who makes charts...

We were all ready to hit the hay, so Pharmie and I pushed our 2 single beds together. Just for cuddles. Not “adult” cuddles.

Saturday: race morning:

We awoke around 4:45 am. Well, we had our alarms set for 4:45, but I was wide-awake around 4. And it took me a while to get to sleep the night before, so I was going to be working on a solid 2-3 hours of sleep. We all had our pre-race oatmeal, lubed up with sunscreen and Body Glide, and got all ready to go.

There was a bus (well, a HUGE convoy of buses) that took everyone from campus to the starting line in Two Harbors, MN. Here are the sisters walking to the bus:

And here’s Borsch on his (yet-to-be-named) bike with all of our race stuff in his backpack:

We got to the line, and it was LONG, but it was moving fast:

The line ends on the other side
of the building in the distance

The 3 of us hopped on the bus and rode 26 miles to the starting line. Borsch hopped on his bike and pedaled his way 26 miles to the starting line.

In Two Harbors, at the starting line:

All 3 of us got off the bus and instantly got in line at the porta-potties. I left a nice little present there. We sat and stretched, and waited for Borsch to arrive. While we were waiting, Jeremy found us. Jeremy is fellow St. Paulite who ran the Winter Carnival half marathon with me, and is currently training for IM WI this fall. We chatted for a moment, and then Borsch arrived. He snapped a photo of everyone hanging out, along with a bit of “port-o-john row”:

Then we grabbed a photo of us three runners (behind us is 1 of 3 “port-o-john rows” at the start):

We listened to the National Anthem:

We all said our “good-byes” and “good lucks”, and we went to find our spots in line. I ran down the side of the huge starting chute until I saw the 3:15 and 3:10 pace groups. I was planning on going out on pace with those groups. So I hopped the fence and took my spot. Here’s the starting line filling up as people were getting in line:

The starting line is behind the toilets, well right of the
yellow tent, but you can see people backing up for blocks.

While I was finding my spot in line, the girls decided that they needed one more poo-break, so they did a quick potty run:

The Race:

Out of nowhere, an air-horn sounded, and we were off. I knew I needed to stay calm and stay on (or near) the pace chart on my arm. I was really excited at this point. The crowd was very heavy, and I wondered how long it would take to disperse. I did VERY GOOD at not jockeying for position - I tend to run through a pack of people at a race, only then to try to run through the next pack. I was not doing that. I was staying calm and cool, hanging out just behind the 3:10 pace group.

Mile 1 - 7:13. Perfect. Right on track.

Mile 2 - 7:05. A little fast. I eased up a bit.

Mile 3 - 7:13. Sweet.

At this point, I was feeling great! I had passed the 3:10 pace group, but I was just barely running in front of them (not going too hard). I was running easy and keeping the pace right where I needed to. I wasn’t trying to push too hard, and I was doing exactly what I needed to be doing. Just after the 5K mark, I spotted Borsch with the camera:

I was feeling as good as that smile looks! I felt like if I kept to the game plan, I’d be in for a good day.

Mile 4 - 7:06. Again, a little fast, but not out of control.

Even though some of these times were 10 seconds faster than I had on my pace chart, they weren’t TOO fast. In fact, 10 seconds faster per mile would drop my 3:04:25 expected finishing time to just under 3 hours (as highlighted above, near the photo of my pace chart wrist band). So I was still right where I needed to be.

Mile 5 - 7:09. Doing good, just 6 seconds fast.

A quick check of the pace chart showed that I was just 32 seconds faster than what I needed to be at this point. Again, just a little fast, but not CRAZY fast. I felt good.

Just after mile 5, I saw Sven Sundgaard from Kare 11 News in the Cities (local weather-guy). He was a spectator. I said “Hi Sven!” and he shot his head up and said “Hey there!” He looks fit and toned on TV, but in real life he’s down-right buff! And super tan! He was there with his buff and tan “man friend.” (If your from the Cities, you KNOW what I’m talking about!) And a few miles later, former Saturday Night Life funny man Al Franken was cheering for everyone (for those of you from out of state, Al’s making a run for Senate here in MN - he was raised in a Twin Cities suburb). I shouted and waved: “Hi Al!!” He waved back, all smiles. Around that point, I also cut all the way across the course to high five two boys with their hands out. “Are you guys waiting for high-fives??” I shouted as I ran over to them. Their mom was just past them, and she remarked “What a smile!...” When I ran past. You know me: all smiles.

Mile 6 - 7:08. Feeling good.

Mile 7 - 7:07. Feeling good.

Mile 8 - 7:09. Feeling good.

Look at that consistency! The last five miles were all within 4 seconds of one another! That was a confidence booster! I was in control and still going strong.

I did a little something dumb at the mile 7 water stop. If you look in that photo of me at mile 3, you can see the 2 gels I was carrying. At mile 7, just before the water, I ate one of the gels. I followed it with some water. A bit after the aid station, I looked at the 1 gel left in my hand. It was the one with the top torn off that had just been consumed. I had thrown the full, unused gel on the ground in the sea of paper cups in the water stop, and I had kept the empty one that I just ate. Damn it. I hoped that I would be OK until mile 17 where they were handing out gels. Oops.

Mile 9 - 7:15. A little slower than the last few miles, but right on pace. Good.

Mile 10 - 6:53. What?

Things got weird around mile 10. It wasn’t one thing; it seemed like little bits of everything. I just stopped feeling like myself. I couldn’t figure it out. I had gone on plenty of runs at the pace for much longer than this, so it wasn’t the speed. It was a little warm, but the heat usually isn’t too big of a deal for me. I was drinking water, but not too much. I had a good nutrition plan that has worked fine for other long runs. Nothing made sense. At this point, I already started running mile-by-mile, where you simply try to make it to the next mile marker.

Mile 11 - 7:10. Hurting.

Mile 12 - 7:08. Hurting. But not knowing why.

I didn’t even know where I was hurting from. I had a little side-stitch, but nothing horrible. My heel had gotten a little sore, but again, nothing horrible. Why did I feel this way?!? I was pissed off at myself.

Mile 13 - 7:20. Dazed, confused, weak, pissed.

I knew I was nearing the end of my day. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I thought to myself “If my achilles snapped or my knee really hurt or I fell and got all cut up, then I’d know why I feel like I have to stop. Now, I really just don’t have a reason for feeling this way!” It was more than frustrating.

I ran through what I thought was the next mile marker: mile 14. But it was just the 13.1 mark (the half way point). I wasn’t watching my watch, and it felt like those 46 seconds and 0.1 mile were another full mile. Looking back, I think I was in worse shape than I thought at the time. It was a little scary later that night when I realized I didn’t run just over 14, but just over 13.1 instead. My mind was gone.

Half marathon split - 1:33:48. I was still 22 seconds faster than my goal time at this point.

I was done. I stepped off the road, and out of nowhere, I threw up. Let’s just say that barely digested Endurolyte capsules (salt tabs), Power Gel, and a Power Bar do not make for the prettiest barf. Monochromatic, yes. Pretty, no. It was fairly, oh, let’s say “gelatinous.” I’ll spare you the gross details. Yes, I, Steve in a Speedo, known for being gross and nasty, will leave out the gross and nasty stuff this time.

You’re welcome.

The salt tabs were still a little intact, and everything else was this repugnant, white, foamy mess. I watched it drop down between the long grass blades in the ditch. It was like a buffalo load of rotten semen. Oops. Did I just take it past “gross and nasty” as you’ve come to expect from me? Well, I was dropping out of a race, but it wasn’t taking my sense of humor.

I jumped across the road to an opening in the trees that had a GREAT view of Lake Superior. I went towards the breeze. I thought I’d see if the cool lake breeze would help. I also had the thought that Homer had in an episode of “The Simpsons”: he was about to receive some bad news, so he asked “Can I get the bad news in a happy place?” Then they cut to Homer having fun on a roller coaster being told some bad news. (I think I have that right; I don’t remember all the details.) So I thought, “If I’m going to drop out of this race, I’ll do it in a scenic spot.” I haven’t said this enough in my life: thank you Homer Simpson.

I was looking over the lake for a few seconds, just above this little rocky ledge. I quickly became a little faint, and backed away from the mini-cliff. “Not smart to be right here,” I thought. Someone from a nearby Med Tent saw me swooning, and he ran over.

“Are you OK.”

“I think so,” I said. As I said it, I nearly started crying. Wow, that came out of nowhere.

“Do you need medical help? Can I get you anything.”

“No, I think my... I think my day is done. I’m done.” Now I was fighting back tears. “Can I stop here?” I asked.

He went on to tell me that it’d be a long wait here, but if I walked up a mile or so, there was a bigger Med Tent that had a drop-out bus that was going to be taking people to the finish line. He asked if I’d be OK to walk to the next stop. I said yes. I think he radioed my number in and officially took me out of the race.

As I started walking, I started thinking that I could still salvage something from this race. I thought I could start running again, even slowly, and still finish my first marathon. How quickly my options changed from “slower than 3:10,” “better than 3:10,” and “maybe even sub 3” to simply “finish” or “not.”

I started running again. Pretty quickly, my vision started to dim. Everything slowly started getting darker and darker. It was like they were turning down the lights to about 40%. I wasn’t feeling faint, I was just slowly going blind.

“Holy shit. Time to stop.”

That was that. No more running. Just get to the next station, hop on a bus, and call it a day. Don’t die. Kaeti, a local blogger, gave me the advice of “Aim for not dying,” and I e-mailed her to thank her, because it was surprisingly simple, good advice!

I was fighting back tears. When I finally stopped to walk knowing that my day was done, there was no one around except for one guy about 50 feet ahead. He gave me some encouraging words as I passed, and I noticed that he had an IM WI 2007 finishers shirt on. Talk about fate punching me in the face.

Here’s where it got hard. As I was rounding a corner, walking up to the Medical Tent, there was another cross street, which meant another big group of spectators. I had walked that last mile with no one around. Now, there were people right next to me telling me “You can do it,” and “Stay strong,” and “Over half way there.” Those are all great, generic things to hear while running a race, but hearing them while in the process of dropping out sucks. The truth was: I couldn’t “do it,” I wasn’t “strong,” and I was already “there.” I kept my head down to avoid eye contact because I was really tearing up and feeling sorry for myself.

I’ve never treated spectators so shitty. Just a few miles before, I was cutting across the course to give high-fives; I was waving and thanking bands; I was waving at kids who had cowbells and screaming “More cowbell!” Now I couldn’t even look them in the eye.

I didn’t know it at the time, but as I was walking through those people, Borsch had spotted me in the distance. He snapped a photo:

Full image

Cropped in on me

See? Head down, mouth clenched, fighting back emotion, being a total ass to the great spectators.

That was it. I couldn’t take another “Hang in there” from the crowd, as I knew there was no way I was going to finish. I jumped the guardrail, turned my back to anyone nearby, and let it all flow in celebration of my first DNF:



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